COVID-19 Note: We’re expecting to run this course as planned. Click here for Halsway’s COVID-19 Guidance for your visit.
Join folk polymath Laurel Swift and fantastic multi-instrumentalist Jon Dyer for a dynamic yet relaxing week to spend quality time with your instrument! With a focus on ensemble playing, you’ll explore music in small and large groups, with exercises and tasks to build confidence, tools and tips to improve your skills, and inspiration to develop your own musicality and style.
You’ll also be able to enjoy guided walks on the Quantock Hills and coast, raise your voice with a little communal singing, dedicate some time to private practice – and enjoy socialising with like-minded people!
In this dynamic yet relaxing week you’ll not just learn new tunes, but explore the many options for what to do with them, and focus on creating and playing in a style that is all your own. We will play music, think about playing music, and have the time and space to fully engross ourselves in improving and developing our skills and musicality, and go home inspired!
The retreat will be a great way to learn new tunes, make new friends and discover a very beautiful part of the country!
Who’s it For?
The week is open to players of any level except complete beginners, and all instruments are welcome. You’ll need to be able to play by ear or be prepared to have a go; if you’re not used to playing by ear then you’ll need to be of an ‘intermediate or above’ standard on your instrument. You can be new to folk, a seasoned folkie, or somewhere in-between.
Laurel Swift is an inspiring performer, composer and workshop leader.
Laurel is the founder and choreographer of Morris Offspring, one half of ‘Under her Skin‘ with performance storyteller Debs Newbold, and plays with Gadarene, Ben Moss, and The Gloworms. She has been involved in many creative folk arts projects, and is currently lead tutor for London Youth Folk Ensemble, and regularly leads workshops for EFDSS adult and youth programmes.
Laurel is the founder and choreographer of Morris Offspring, who have appeared on BBC2’s Culture Show, sold out the South Bank, and been the only morris dance team to undertake a major tour of UK Arts Centres. In 2011 she ran Must Come Down, a huge performance involving 4 musicians, 1 storyteller and 36 young morris dancers from the UK, the USA and Canada. The Furnace, Morris Offspring’s 4th and final professional show, sees the group working with Faustus – Paul Sartin, Benji Kirkpartick (Bellowhead) and Saul Rose (War Horse). Morris Offspring did it’s final performance in 2013, although there were some brief reappearances with Steeleye Span for their Wintersmith tour, live onstage at the Albert Hall for the 2014 BBC Radio2 Folk Awards to celebrate the life of Cecil Sharp.
Laurel worked with the performance storyteller, Debs Newbold. Their show, Under Her Skin, was directed by John Wright and gives an ancient British folktale a strong contemporary retelling. It is a fully integrated show, inventive and theatrical yet, sharing the tale equally between Debs’ charismatic storytelling voice and Laurel’s double bass, fiddle and clogs.
Laurel plays double bass with Gadarene, a high-energy band blending obscure 18th century manuscript tunes with modern beats. She plays fiddles, dances and sings in a duo with ben Moss, who also sings and plays fiddle and melodeon. They have a harmony-rich repertoire of predominantly English folk songs and old and new tunes. Finally, Laurel plays fiddle with irresistible ceilidh-dance groovers, The Gloworms. She has been awarded two opportunities to showcase compositions with innovative folk organisation, Distil: Pocket Garden (2007) and London Haven (2008).
She has led projects with and performed under a variety of contemporary dance artists including Freddie Opoku-Addaie, Benjamin Dunks and Kate Flatt. Laurel has taught morris for both theatre and film worked with Tom Morris for the Bristol Old Vic’s production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Laurel spent 12 years as the Artistic Director of Shooting Roots, who run creative folk arts projects for and by young people, and continues to run regular classes in London and at festivals.
Jon is a multi-instrumentalist and experienced folk musician and performer playing in many bands, which include Gadarene, Jon Dyer & Alfie Gidley and Palinka. Half of popular ceilidh band Dyer Cummings where bass and flute are his instruments of choice.
He graduated from Falmouth University with a BA Hons in Music Performance in 2013 and as well as performing he has been community musician and tutor with Wren Music.